The party king of Barcelona starts a Bike Tour with a twist!
Ever since I moved to Barcelona on April 16th, 2007 I have been involved in the Barcelona party scene, my love of being the life and soul of any party made the job of running the worlds biggest Pub Crawl a great fit for me, I would go out every night and show the people on our pub crawl how to party and I was damn good at it!
I went out every night drinking to excess as the days rolled into weeks and onto months and years, I found my life turning into groundhog day and the role of being the Barcelona party king became an actual job!
I found myself drifting away and I really needed a change my body and more importantly, my mind could not take it anymore!
I would get told every night you have the greatest job on the planet getting to drink for free and party every night! What the people on the Pub Crawl don’t see is the constant nightly problems that drunk people cause, the aggression and the arguments I must solve each and every night!
Yes, I do get to meet new people every night but answering the same questions & having exactly the same questions every night gets so tedious! Also, the fact that your getting older and the people you meet every night are staying exactly the same age makes you feel like your not progressing, don’t get me wrong at first it was awesome but 5 years later you want to shoot yourself in the head!
Anyway, I found myself wanting more than just a nightlife business & seen how successful these free walking tours were doing my original idea was maybe to start one of those but with so many people doing them I knew that with a market so saturated we needed to do something different to stand out. A friend of mine was running a bike tour company, yes you Bill and was doing quite well until they closed there doors, he had toyed with the idea of setting up a free bike tour but never made any moves so about a year after he had closed up shop and moved away from Barcelona I started thinking about the idea.
Free Bike Tour Barcelona was born with the help of 50 bikes on the next slow boat from China! It was mid 2016 and I had just placed the order for 50 bikes from a Chinese company I had found on Alibaba, We had a great website ranking on google already and requests coming in daily, we also had bike tour guides ready with a script that was actually quite good if I do say so myself all we needed now was the bike to arrive and we would smash out a great summer of bike tours and take our share of the market!
The Bikes arrived, LATE and I knew things were not going to go well from the minute we opened the first box, as we put together the very first bike it broke beyond repair out of 50 bikes we only got around 40 of them up and running within a month this number shrank to around 25, my advice to anyone is, the more moving parts something has the more you should think about buying it locally (or as local as possible) MR Chan from the Beijing Bicycle Co did not care about our broken bikes and offered nothing in the way of replacement or compensation.
Anyway we had our bikes and our tour began I can honestly say apart from the state of the bikes and constantly having to repair them the first summer went great with mostly 5 star reviews, people loved our tour and they loved our business model, our then head bike tour guide James was a real charmer and a great storyteller. My own father went on the tour and gave him 20 euros for the pleasure of it!
Winter is coming, the first winter came and numbers plummeted having experience in the Barcelona winter I knew this was nothing to do with our tour, everything dies in the winter in Barcelona. We carried on the best we could, we ran when people showed up and had the day off when they did not!
Summer 2017 Came along and I think we were down to around 18 bikes, broken bikes filled our office it was like the elephant graveyard from the Lion King in the basement of my office. We had a great season on the Bike Tour that year and I knew we were taking a decent market share as licensing showed up at my office undoubtedly sent by one of the other bike tours feeling the pressure from us taking customers from them.
We Finished that summer even better than the summer before with great reviews but one issue seemed to be flagging in any review with anything negative to say and from the bike tour guides themselves about the poor quality of the bikes, I promised my guides I would solve the issue by purchasing more bikes for the next summer this time I would not make the same mistake as I did before and I would buy them in Europe.
Where would I buy the new bikes? I had no clue and any search I made on the internet led me back to China! I decided to phone up my competitor and pretended to be a customer who had recently been on their bike tour and really liked the bikes they had and wanted to buy one, they kindly gave me all the details I needed to buy one direct from the manufacturer located conveniently just across the border in France! I called up and made my order for the following June and told my guides that their problems had been solved just one more winter to get through with our crap Chinese bikes!
The 2017 winter went a lot better than the previous year but it was still bad but I know this bike tour is all about the summer, that’s our time to make money.
We started 2018 with some bad news our awesome head guide James would not be returning this year, instead, he would be pursuing his magic career, I wished him good luck and we parted on good terms and we are still best of friends to this day. Things changed we had to adapt and move on, even though I would have liked to I cant (I don’t have a gun) put a gun to his head and make him work.
Noora (Dora the Explorer) was one of our guides that would take over the head guide role from James she is a mental Icelandic girl who is always just up for a laugh and has a down to earth attitude and had fitted in quite well. Where she lacked some of Jame’s attributes she more than made up for it with hard work (something James would happily admit he does not have himself)
The new bikes arrived in July 2018 and they didn’t come a second too soon, we were running so many tours and the old Chinese bikes were breaking faster than we could fix them.
The new bikes were lovely they road so smooth compared to the old ones and everyone loved them the negative comments about the bikes stopped immediatly. The guides were happy, the custimers too and so was I! Business is about spotting issues and correcting them finally our only issue had been fixed and I knew we were on for the best summer ever!
We finished 2018 having had over 10,000 people on our bike tour this was massive, but I know it was just the tip of the ice burg we are projecting over 15,000 people on Free Bike Tour Barcelona in 2019.
Now we are expanding on to London and we expect to be even more successful there with the help of the idea originator himself my old friend Bill Egan.
We have made plenty of mistakes along the way but you either win or you learn and we have taken every loss as a lesson and moved on stronger for it and know that the next step to London will be a hard one but we are more than experienced enough to take it.
Have a look at our website for more info on our Free Bike Tours